U.S. Retail Sales Better than Expected (M, GPS, AMZN, WMT, TGT, BBY, RSH)

According to today's report from the U.S. Census Bureau, retail and food services sales in August rose 0.9% month-over-month and 4.7% compared with August 2011. Economists had been expecting an increase of 0.8% from July. Excluding sales of cars and auto parts, sales rose 0.8%, in line with expectations.

As might have been expected, auto sales rose the most, up 12.3% from a year ago, but furniture stores rose 8.4%, and clothing and accessories sales rose 5.8%, as did sporting goods and hobby sales. Clothing and department store retailers like Macy's Inc. (NYSE: M) and Gap Inc. (NYSE: GPS) have already reported robust August sales, and today's numbers from the Census Bureau are right in line with those early reports. On a cautionary note, clothing store sales were down 0.1% from July.

The Census Bureau also noted that nonstore retail sales jumped 10.6% year-over-year. This category includes Amazon.com Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN) and online sales from retailers like Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (NYSE: WMT) and Target Corp. (NYSE: TGT). The not-so-good news here is that sales were flat month-over-month for the nonstore retailers.

The big losers for the month of August were electronics and appliance stores, where sales fell by 2.3% year-over-year and 1.4% from July. Again, no big surprise given the recent performance at Best Buy Co. Inc. (NYSE: BBY) and RadioShack Corp. (NYSE: RSH).

Paul Ausick

Filed under: 24/7 Wall St. Wire, Autos, Consumer Electronics, Consumer Goods, Consumer Product, Research, Retail Tagged: AMZN, BBY, GPS, M, RSH, TGT, WMT